How the Irish government pulled off a Brexit coup

Denis Staunton has an excellent piece in the Irish Times about how Enda Kenny achieved so much success, so quickly with the Brexit negotiations. Whilst some were waxing lyrical about Spain’s aggressive stance over Gibraltar, Ireland pretty much went back to basics, quietly in the background working with officials and quietly pushed forward its agenda.

The prominence of Ireland’s issues in the EU’s guidelines, including a statement guaranteeing that Northern Ireland could automatically rejoin the EU as part of a united Ireland, is the product of an unprecedented political and diplomatic effort that began even before the UK voted to leave the EU.

The State’s efforts have required strategic planning, detailed analysis, cunning and the cultivation and exploitation of personal relationships.

When David Cameron announced a UK referendum on its EU membership, the Government decided that, unlike in the 2014 vote on Scottish independence, the Republic would actively advocate for a Remain vote.

Ahead of the campaign, Irish officials made assessments of the potential impact of Brexit on the economy, trade, the Border, the peace process and the movement of people between Britain and Ireland.

So when Britain voted to leave, the State was better prepared than most other EU member states to make its concerns heard in Brussels and other European capitals.

The Taoiseach, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Mr Murphy led the political offensive with a round of visits to European capitals, where their meetings were not confined to discussions with their ministerial counterparts.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs